July 2009 Issue

Cats’ Eyes: Exquisitely Fascinating

Theyíre colorful, expressive and a vital component of your catís hunting instinct and body language.

Ever feel like you could get lost in your catís eyes? Although we usually associate catsí eyes with the color green, they actually come in many colors. They can range from blue to copper, with a variety of blue-green shades in between. (But all kittens are born with blue eyes ó the same as human babies.) The color of the iris (the oval area around the pupil) is caused by the pigment melanin, and in cats it ranges from very pale yellow or tan to deep orange or brown. "The eye also derives some pigment from the retina in the back of the eye, causing a blue-grayish color," says Paul Maza, DVM, of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Cornell Universityís College of Veterinary Medicine. The end result can be compared to putting a sheet of blue-gray glass over the iris, thus resulting in your catís unique eye color. Since a catís eye color depends on several genetic factors, one set of feline parents can produce a wide range of eye colors in their kittens.

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